By Trent Watherston
The Dance Central series has been a pioneering series for the Xbox Kinect. As a franchise that’s gotten many a player up off the lounge and into a variety dance routines to a large track list of songs, it’s been a tremendous success. With Dance Central 3 now available for dance and Kinect fans, it’s time to clear the lounge room and dim the lights. It’s about to get funky!
If there’s one thing you will notice straight away with this particular release, it’s just how ludicrously indulgent the narrative is. You’ve become the newest member of DCI, that’s Dance Central Intelligence, and it’s your job to travel through time to learn the dance crazes over the past 5 decades to combat the series main villain Dr Tan. It’s a story that’s so completely out there that the perhaps over imaginative minds who created it have to be admired. Or, conversely, you'll think it's ridiculous -- it's a love-or-hate type thing.
Dance Central 3 doesn’t reshape the mold dramatically from previous releases. In fact it’s very much a refinement of an already successful gameplay system. That’s not to say there isn’t anything new this time around, rather there’s some great new additions that are worth noting.
The core gameplay remains the same as its predecessors. Players mimic onscreen characters in time to the music with a large variety of choreographed actions. Based upon how well you execute these actions you are rated and earn points, which build up your star rating. Of course up to two players can still both play side by side.
From a choreography perspective, Dance Central 3 has no doubt pushed the boundaries creating more dynamic routines for players to learn. Initially some may see that as a reason for concern as some routines in previous releases have been admittedly difficult to learn. Harmonix though have accounted for this with a new beginner difficulty that allows newcomers to simply get up and play without the need to learn a fully choreographed routine. It’s the perfect way to bring together die-hard fans who want a challenge and those that just want to join in.
The newest feature -- Crew Throw Down -- builds upon existing multiplayer gameplay by allowing up to 8 players to be split into two crews with mini games such as Pose off, where players have to complete several poses sequentially correctly and Make a Move, where players pit each other against actions that they have created. Crew Throw Down is the area where players get exposed to practically every element of Dance Central in one form or another and it results in an experience that never gets dull.
The track list this time around is by far a lot more diverse than before and this could be mostly attributed to the new story that takes place in the Dance Central world. This time around we see music from as far back as the 70s and the wider variety has been for the better. Dance Central 1 and even 2 tended to have rather modern tracklists, it wasn’t a bad thing persay but it neglected to include some of the iconic songs we’ve experienced over the decades. Now however you will be breaking it out Disco style, doing YMCA and even the Macarena just to name two. It’s an incredibly welcome addition and will no doubt get some of those who held back from playing that perfect nudge to get up and dance.
Of course if you’re a fan of the series and own earlier titles you can make use of importing previous tracks from those titles into DC3 and -- let’s face facts -- why wouldn’t you want to have the opportunity to have a 100+ long list of songs to dance to?
Dance Central 3 comes to us as a more refined and evolved entry into the Dance Central franchise. It not only succeeds in finding a way to include more newcomers but also further test hardcore fans with fantastically technical routines. When it comes down to it if you have a Kinect this is a must have in your collection. No other dance title on the market compares to what Harmonix have done for the genre.
Dance Central 3 is available now for Xbox 360, requiring Kinect.